Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Book Dating Agency

There are many lost and lonely manuscripts looking for a friend. Like finding a partner some are fortunate to have a good active social circle to help them, but increasingly many are now turning to the internet and the dating agencies. Imagine what Jane Austen would write about today’s ‘good man’ looking for a ‘good wife’ over the internet? So, if we are increasingly turning to dating agencies to find our partners why not a section ‘Books seeking a good reader’?

Serial Thriller seeks Readers:London, swinging 60s, the scene of music, murder and the macabre. The Rippers' groupies got more than they bargained for backstage. Will the bandever get out of the groove?

Last week we wrote about the gatekeepers within the industry that control the flow of works being published and how some appear to remain firmly fixed in the old world of print, ‘ The Suppression of Writing‘.

We are pleased that we are now starting to see others who are seeing new ways to match the mountain of manuscripts through new innovative ways in order to review, auction and promote them and ultimately help them find a partner.

Inkubate is one of these new online services that enables authors to upload full manuscripts, excerpts, out-of-print works for review and possible acquisition by agents or publishers. The model is free to authors while publishers and agents have pay a subscription fee for access material. Everything is fully tracked and audited searchable and filtered. Users can categorise material, receive alerts on new submissions, authors, genres. One could say it’s a super dating agency. This site is not about reviews but is firmly based at creating a trading marketplace which could lead to future wedlock.

Although the site is still in beta, it already has 350 authors on board, offering some 400 works for a date and some publishers and agents are reportedly eying up the candy. The full launch is still about a year away and the model is to be further enhanced by incentives to raise the profile of works and tier the access of publishers and agents.

PUBSLUSH Press is also encouraging authors to submit their book ideas and even creating competitions offering those chosen to win an iPad 2 and a chance to be published. To win writers simply submit the best ten pages and a summary of their manuscript at, through October 15th.

PUBSLUSH Press use a social network approach that aims to connect authors directly with readers. They have an unfortunate name for their registered users , calling them ‘Slushers’ . These so called Slushers, review and share their favourite works and when a certain level of clear interest is indentified against an individual submission, PUBSLUSH then takes over and provide a comprehensive publishing process; editing, design, marketing, distribution, etc. PUBSLUSH can also acts as an agent, allowing editors at major publishers to easily browse the top submissions and extend deals to authors.

The term ‘slushpile’ is a derogatory and a rather supercilious and ‘holier than thou’ way the industry describes the mountain of unsolicited manuscripts they often dismiss as not worthy or are incapable of digesting. However the internet and technology changes all and itself encourages all to express themselves and to create. As we have said before we are moving from listeners and readers to creators and we are no longer restricted to the physical work. The democratisation of writing is a given and not all will be well written, or even read, but connecting writing to reading should be the first goal and these new dating agencies and others, maybe will help free us from yesterday’s gatekeepers.

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